Ranchero Hardcover – Oct 25 2011
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Praise for Ranchero
“Gritty, earthy and often hilarious… The irresistible Ranchero has the humor of a tall tale told by Mark Twain.”
--The Wall Street Journal
“A very colorful trip … Gavin turns out phrase after phrase of ear-pleasing insight into the Delta and those who live there, and dialogue that sounds just right… And when Gavin waxes funny, he really is funny, with enough comedic situations to keep everyone laughing as Reid tries to recover the Ranchero.”
--The Associated Press
“In his debut, Rick Gavin offers a comic romp through the Mississippi Delta, "less a place than a boot on your neck," where eccentricities thrive, pathetic criminals flourish and the absurd can pass for the norm… Gavin's eye for the odd turns out dark, slapstick humor akin to Tim Dorsey's Serge A. Storm novels and Ben Rehder's series set in Blanco County, Texas... Gavin's fine eye for details, his compassion for humanity and his dark sense of humor make Ranchero work… Gavin's dialogue is Elmore Leonard-perfect.”
--South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Ranchero
“This first novel from Gavin is a little miracle. The dialogue is pitch-perfect…. One of the most enjoyable crime debuts in a very long time.”
--Booklist (starred review)
“Gavin’s first novel is a sure winner. Reminiscent of Tim Dorsey’s “Serge Storms” series but with a more likable protagonist, it will appeal to down-home good old boys and their armchair counterparts. Recommended.”
--Library Journal (starred review)
“Full of inspired comic hyperbole, Gavin’s rollicking debut does for the Mississippi Delta what Tim Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen do for Florida… Readers will eagerly await Reid’s next adventure in the Delta.”
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Rick Gavin brings a true ear for dialogue and his gifts as a literary stylist to this series debut. A kick-ass backcountry novel.”
--New York Times bestselling author Randy Wayne White
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It's one of the funniest and most absorbing books I've read in ages.
Protagonist Nick Reid, the low level band of criminals he pursues in his quest to retrieve his insistent landlady's dead husband's cherished titular vehicle in same shape she lent it to him, and the various sordid venues he pursues them through, all left me thoroughly entertained and hoping to see future adventures for Reid and company.
I do have to disagree with one reviewer's assessment of it as parody. I'm a lifetime resident of rural western NC and Ranchero's motley assortment of characters rang, sometimes pleasantly and other times disturbingly, true for me. As always, your mileage may vary, but I highly recommend this ride.
K-Lo - sitting on the couch (the description of that couch!) getting drunk while singing Bing Crosby (so not what you'd expect from K-Lo). That's when Nick is coming in to borrow some money and get the rifle - without K-Lo noticing, because of his temper. Meanwhile, as is the norm for the Delta, K-Lo is about to get robbed. " ....and one wiry older guy whose job apparently was to wonder why nobody was doing what he'd asked them to do." and "...so there wasn't anything to pry or saw, nothing to draw or cut. Those boys might as well have brought a sugar spoon."
Then Nick sends K-Lo home. "Me and Angie helped him to his Civic and got him situated behind the wheel. We pointed him right and sent him off like he was in the Soap Box Derby. He lurched upon the curbing as he left the shopping plaza." "Will he make it?" Angie asked me. "Always does," I said.
You know, I'm not sure the quotes do it justice because they're without context. It's hard to fully appreciate them without knowing what's come before and after that completes or adds to the picture. Pearl, who "insists" stuff on everyone, especially her deceased husband's clothes - the use of "insists" in this context - what better way to convey that she's always trying to give things to the people to the point of annoyance?
Luther, drug dealer quite impressed with himself who fails to see the absurdity of his observations and behavior - and when we're first introduced to him, takes any excuse to show off his cowboy boots. After coming in contact with Pearl, he becomes taken with the silk blazers and tap shoes she insists on him. "Pearl, as it turned out, was in insisting heaven. Luther was naturally primed to steal everything she had, and Pearl was possessed of a burning need to hand all of it over."
So she gives him a few )vintage) seersucker jackets and then some coveralls, until he's wearing coveralls, an old dinner jacket, and tap shoes. "Luther had gotten busy putting on his own spontaneous fashion show. He was twirling around in the driveay, raising clatter with his taps. He kept inviting us to admire his suit coat and the way it draped and hung." Luther - small time drug dealer who thinks he's a big time, very smart guy.
Later on, with more 'crackers' at Pearl's, they're all rummaging in the closet. I'd quote the paragraph but it's a little on the long side, as Nick describes what each is wearing and what they looked like. But now knowing the personalities of these goobers, you can just see them exclaiming over and trying on these clothes like a bunch of 5 year old girls let loose in their mother's vintage clothes they've found in the attic.
Eugene and Tommy - who spend an inordinate amount of time arguing about what bait works best and who caught the most, and then move straight into arguing about women, get to tussling, and roll off the porch straight into the bayou. Eugene's house has a wall made of doors and the roof is made of upside down signs, like the one that says "Mowing Ahead."
Oh there's action too. The whole thing with Guy, the Acadian f*** stick, (as they call him) is great. I can't pick a favorite character. They're all so well developed, all so wacky. Luther in the back of Desmond's car, sitting on Calvin, who Desmond and Nick had seized from a BBQ place while Luther was busy ordering ribs, is now in the back of the Geo sitting on Calvin, not carrying where he drips the sauce. "Luther removed one of Gil's tap shoes and beat Calvin on his cowlick until Calvin grew meek and finally shut up" (because he got all "drug-lordy" on them). A bit later "Luther tapped Calvin on top of his head because the moment impressed him as fitting."
Wait til Luther discovers the taser. He's in more joy than Percy Dwayne is with K-Lo's gun that has rubber bullets in it.
Nick knows how ridiculous his captives sound and so does Desmond (his friend and partner in tracking down Gil's stolen car Nick borrowed), and the reader does, too. And Nick views his own periodic ineptitude with a rather sardonic view, though he's much more competent than he thinks. But Luther, Eugene, Tommy, Percy Dwayne, Calvin, Dale, and Guy haven't a clue how little sense they make or how completely illogical their thought processes or behavior are.
This is a laugh-out-loud book with brilliant imagery. You're there. What also makes this book so great is how it continues to build on itself, situation by situation. And Gavin is brilliant with his words, his descriptions. He's got a fresh and funny way of relating the scene. I loved this book - as soon as he writes another one, I'm jumping on it.
As fun as that is, the star of the whole escapade, however, is the setting. With a personality as idiosyncratic as any character, the Mississippi Delta feels simultaneously familiar and alien, as if you've discovered that that really cool and unusual house in town turns out to secretly serve as headquarters for a cretin-breeding operation. For those of us forced to lay claim to more than a little flinty New Englander in our own cultural genetics, the Mississippi Delta may as well be from another galaxy. Gavin's novel, in large measure, functions not only as a wild ride but also an instructive tour worthy of firing up a little Google Earth for the visual. Nick's take on the locals, through Gavin's finely focused lens, reveals an authentic intimacy with the regional culture few writers can pull off. Gavin successfully balances a truly unvarnished and forthright assessment of the local color without tipping over into patronizing, mean-spirited mockery--no small feat. And Ranchero is funny as hell the whole way, terrific from start to finish. Curl up on your own "ugly sofa" and have at it. Your only regret will be that it ended.